or What's in a number...
This time last month, there were numerous posts on the implications of GFC disappearing for non-Blogger blogs. There was lots of talk about how to keep following blogs. We were asked to sign up for newsletters, subscribe to RSS feeds, sign up for email and to join the new Linky Followers.
Having a Blogger blog, there have been no changes for me. (I can't speak for non-Blogger blogs.) Without doing anything, I still receive all the RSS feeds I received before. They are in my Dashboard and in my RSS reader of choice.
I use Google Reader to keep track of all the blogs I read. The majority of blogs automatically show up because I follow the blogs via GFC. The rest, I add the RSS feeds manually, whether they be Blogger, Wordpress or whatever. I am happy with how Google Reader functions, but more importantly for me, I don't have to log in to yet another thing. Whether I count as a number on the blogs I follow, depends on how I follow. If I add the feed manually, I don't count, unless their blog is redirected and burnt to a feed. (I think.)
There are lots of other RSS readers out there, both free and paying. Google it and you'll see how many there are. I can't comment on their usefulness or how good they are, because I've never used them. I did investigate signing up for one of them, but the fact that I would have to sign in put me off. I would be interested in hearing the advantages and disadvantages of other RSS readers.
Last month there was a lot of talk about a new tool for following blogs; Linky Followers. I did add this to my blog, but am not sure whether I will keep it or not. I also followed a few non-Blogger blogs. As with all RSS readers, the blog you are following doesn't have to have the Linky Followers widget. Same as with Google Reader, you just manually add the URL for the blog you want to subscribe to. However, there is a difference between Linky Followers and other RSS readers... with Linky Followers, the blog owner has to manually update their feed each time they post. I haven't logged in to Linky Followers and updated my last post yet, so others who are using Linky Followers to read my blog, can't see my Easter Baskets post. There's a couple of big blogs I followed, who haven't updated their feeds since the beginning of March. Even though I have followed a few blogs via Linky Followers, I actually keep up with their blogs via Google Reader, so it doesn't matter to me whether they update or not. I would be very interested in hearing from anyone who follows Threading My Way via Linky Followers. Would it matter to you if I stop updating my posts via the widget and delete it?
How else can you follow a blog? Most blogs have a Follow by Email link. Put your email address in, click submit and your email is sent, to... Where is your email address sent to? If you are on a Blogger blog, perhaps the email will be sent to Google or perhaps Feedburner. I'm not sure. Do you know? On other blogs, I don't have a clue where your email is sent. The blog owner can see how many people are signed up to receive blog posts by email, but cannot see who is signed up or what their email addresses are.
There is another way to receive blog posts via email, without sending your email address to anyone. Well, I know it can be done on a Mac computer, so I assume it can be done on Windows. My email program (Mail) has an RSS reader incorporated in it. I simply go to File > Add RSS feed. You can then read the blog post from the email program like you would Google Reader, or you can click through to the actual post. Before I owned a blog, this is how I read blog posts and I still follow a few blogs this way; just a few that I don't read often.
If you follow a blog via email, will the blog owner be able to count you as a number?
- If you send your email address via the Follow by Email link, yes, the blog owner will be able to see you as a number.
- If you add the RSS feed to your email program, the blog owner won't be able to count you as a number, unless their blog is redirected and burnt to a feed. I know next to nothing about burning a blog feed and redirecting, but I would be interested in finding out how this works from anyone who uses it. I know that when you add the Follow by Email widget, a feed is burnt via Feedburner, but the blog is not redirected.
Most Blogger blogs have this little widget in their side bar. This gives you the option to subscribe to a blog's RSS feed via a variety of readers. I think (but I'm not positive), that you don't count as a number when you subscribe this way.
On some blogs, when you subscribe to RSS, you are taken to a Feedburner signup. The blog owner will not know who you are, but will be able to see you as a number.
Does it matter if you count as a number on someone's blog? I personally don't worry about how many followers I have and I'm not too keen on the term followers. Don't get me wrong, I am very pleased that people like to stay up to date with and read my blog and I do get a kick out of seeing those numbers grow. However, it is more important to me that people want to read my blog and interaction is even more important. I can gauge interest most readily through comments. My stats tell me how many have visited, but not what they thought.
Pinterest is an exception to this. Someone can come, read and leave without a comment, so they just show on your stats. If they pin a post, that's as good as a comment to me. In fact, it means they like the post enough to want to come back to it. I know there's a lot of talk about the pros and cons of Pinterest at the moment. I'll leave my mixed thoughts on that for another post.
Facebook and Twitter are other ways to follow blogs. I'm sure there's lots of other ways that I am unaware of, too.
If you read my blog on a regular basis, whether you leave comments or not, I would love to know how you receive updates on posts.
Two more questions for those of you who use Google Reader. There is one blog (that I follow via GFC and with whom I want to stay up to date), that keeps disappearing from my reader. No matter how many times I add their RSS feed to Google Reader, it just disappears. Can anyone help me?
Secondly, I am trying to unsubscribe to one blog, but no matter how many times I unsubscribe, it keeps reappearing. Has anyone else had this happen?
As you can tell, there's a lot I DON'T know about RSS feeds. If anything in my post is inaccurate, please leave me a (nice) comment.